A Wilkos Update; Beestonia has a Brief Encounter; Best of Beestonia?; How Not To Do Christmas.

I’m going to go quiet on the Wilkos stuff for a bit now, but the battle is far from over. I’m in the process of collating all the signatures, photocopying the resultant sheets and sending these off to all relevant parties. The original set I intend to submit at the next full-council meeting at the Town Hall: I’ll let you know before hand when this is if you’d like to attend with me. Personal experience of attending council meetings is that a good showing of campaigners is effective: councillors very rarely wish to be appear in a bad light when the public are glowering behind them.

If you were not able to sign, there is a way to get your name down. Simply drop me an email  at mattgoold23@hotmail.com with your details on (don’t worry, I won’t sell them to unscrupulous address harvesters) and I’ll get you included. The terms of the petition are simple: ‘We the undersigned urge all those concerned to ensure Wilkos remains in Beeston’.

Heres a (badly edited, sorry) thing that I did on BBC Radio Nottingham about Wilkos:

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While in the depths of the Wilkos campaign, I did a bit of research on the company and found a cracker of a fact I couldn’t not share with you: In the 1945 stiff -upper lip romantic film Brief Encounter, a Wilkos store (a branch in Beaconsfield, to be exact) is visible in the background of a key scene where Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard politely discuss love through the emotional straitjacket of being English in the Olden Days. Next week I’ll be describing how Chilwell Lidl was the location set for Sunset Boulevard.

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It’s the new year in a few hours, so I will be working on the annual End of Year Round-Up the moment I motivate myself into reading a year’s worth of  Beestonia. This could take some time: writing it is hard enough, you don’t actually think I read it as well? So help me along and let me know who the Beestonia heroes and villains were; what events shook Beeston, anything that saves me having to face the task of trawling through the 100,000+ words I’ve flung onto here over the last 12 months.

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And finally, a cockle-warming Christmas tale. Cos I love Christmas very much, and I love it because however rubbish it might be, however hateful the hangover, however dry the turkey, however dire the jokes that fall from the inevitably disappointing crackers, I’ll NEVER have a Christmas as bad as one I endured 11 years ago, which I will tell you now and then have erased from my memory by some DIY keyhole lobotomising. It has nothing whatsoever to do with with Beeston besides having me as the protagonist, so only read on if you’re into self-indulgent whimsy. Oh, its not for the squeamish either….

At the time, I lived in Kent, working and living in a sprawling real-ale pub.  We were the largest pub in town -Tonbridge, to be precise-and I was roped into manning our tiny upstairs bar with a normally reliable barmaid called Laura. Laura, who that day decided to have a few pre-work sherries and turned up so drunk she spent the entire shift sprawled over the Bacardi Breezers in a dead sleep while I suddenly found the whole of the Weald of Kent at my bar demanding booze, and demanding it now.

After six hours sweaty, back-breaking graft I threw the last punter out and joined the staff on the main bar, which had been properly staffed allowing all the pint-pullers to get pleasantly mullered through the night. I made myself a Black Russian – I had strange tastes back then- and was about to take my first, much awaited slip when my colleague Adam decided to roundhouse kick it out my hand, apparently, ‘for a laugh’.

I didn’t laugh. I didn’t even smile. Far from it. I launched myself at Adam, and we ended up rolling around on the floor, in the fag-ash, beer slops and broken glass, intent on celebrating Yuletide with a spot of homicide. Eventually, we were seperated, and I slunk off to my flat below the pub.

Next morning, I rose early and visited my girlfriend’s house, where I was to spend the rest of Christmas. Sarah: not her real name, for reasons that will become obvious; had a bout of flu, and I got soaked in an icy rain-storm en route, but we both determined to have a great time.

I should have got out early, straight after the exchange of presents. I should have known her unhappiness at recieving a book of poetry from a poet I thought she’d said she ‘liked’ when she had actually said ‘despised’ was an omen. And I should have definately cut my losses and evacuated when she reacted badly to her other present, an engraved pen. I only had spelled her name slightly wrong, but I should have packed up then.

But I persevered, and even faked a smile at her presents to me: three self-help books, addressing problems I wasn’t even aware I was suffering from; and when she announced Christmas dinner was ready, assumed I’d got through the toughest bit. Oh, how very wrong can a man be?

She wasn’t the greatest cook, but had made a decent fist at preparing a traditional plate of food, which I gratefully tucked into. Yes, the slices of turkey were still slightly frozen on the outer edge, yes, the roasties were Aunt Bessie, and no, I wasn’t previously aware that  guacamole was a usual addition to the plate. Yet, when washed down with a warm glass of Liebafraumilch, was just dandy. Then Sarah vomited onto her own dinner.

I’m not a fussy man: I’ve had a kebab from the chippy on Wollaton Road, sober, but I do have a line and that crossed it. Maybe if  the expulsion has been exclusively thrust out upon her own plate, I’d have been fine, but there was a fair degree of splash-back and that found itself on my food. My appetite diminished in a millisecond. The line was crossed. After ensuring Sarah was ok, I pushed the remainder of my meal into the pedal bin.

This seemingly rational action infuriated Sarah who, still dabbing away at her mouth, exclaimed ‘ I spent hours on that, and you just THROW IT AWAY’

‘But…but I was nearly finished…and there was a bit of sick in the gravy’

‘HOURS. OVER. A HOT. STOVE’

At this point she was physically shaking. Prudently, I picked up my coat, and headed home.

I planned to spend the remaining hours of Christmas day in my under-pub flat,  watching TV and cooking up some nice supper later on. Salvage something from a wretched day. The key turned in the lock, and I strolled in to find my carpet made a noise, which it had previously never done. And the noise was a squelch. This seldom  precedes something good.

Chez Beestonian, a decade ago.

The picture above shows what was my flat: its that window on the right. That big wet thing right next to it? That’ll be the River Medway, that had decided to rise up and flood for a while earlier that day. Dirty cold water had eked in, drenching a huge spot on my carpet. A two hour clean-up job ensued, my hands red-raw from scrubbing the river filth from my thin-pile flooring.

After dousing any remaining damp in a thick dusting of Shake n’ Vac, I sat down to watch whatever distracting tat I could find. Sadly, that required electricity, of which there was none. The flood had shorted the fusebox in the unreachable pub cellar, and as the Landlady and Landlord were away in Gillingham, I had no way of restoring it. A steely resignation set in, and with a sigh I saw out the rest of Christmas evening with only a cold tin of beans and a text message informing me I was single for company. Merry Christmas!

Beestonia, yesterday.

Beestonians Unite to Save Wilkos: Others Just Act Plain Odd…

As it’s Christmas, so I should be writing something suitably whimsical about Beeston and reindeer, but as often happens when I’m just looking forward to a nice rest and a mince pie, It All Kicks Off.

I give a pub-based interview with The Nottingham Post on Wednesday with Broxtowe correspondent Alex Britton, which is odd as I’m more used to chatting with Alex before or after the full-council meetings and other local-political shindigs we attend. I’m not really used to being the subject, so when he said ‘I’m now interviewing you Matt’ my normal louche free-flowing speech became a halting stuttering repetitive barrage of non-sequiturs and nonsense, though somehow he span this into a story which I’ve linked to below this post.

Later that day, I get asked by BBC Radio Nottingham if I’d do a piece, so  quick telephone chat in the evening,followed by being on the street outside Wilkos at 7.20am the next morning to be interviewed live by the sprightly and smiley Hannah Meredith for the Breakfast Show. I haven’t listened to it yet but all I can remember was trying to get my message out about Wilkos as my brain fought not to hit panic and shout ‘OH HEAVENS YOU’RE ON LIVE RADIO RIGHT ACROSS THE COUNTY RIGHT NOW IMAGINE IF YOU START SWEARING RANDOMLY HOW BAD THAT WOULD BE GO ON DO IT DO IT’. Somehow,I got through without a breakdown, and Hannah jumped back in her radio car to meet some pagans on Wollaton Park.

With all the media attention, the closure of Wilkos suddenly became a huge issue in Beeston, and by the time I tacked my fresh petition sheets to a  clipboard at 9am, a queue of bewildered shoppers had gathered. For the next six hours, around a thousand more stopped to express their anger, shock and sorrow at losing the store, and to put down their John Hancock to try and prevent it happening.

I have to confess, I had a great time. It’s not often one gets to meet so many people who understand community and it’s needs so well. Beestonians, you were universally wonderful yesterday.The cheeky grinned old ladies who went from sweet grans to head-scarfed Boudiccas the moment they saw the petition; the two gents who I’ve never met before who showed up to help (and in the case of Jeremy, make a cash donation to the fighting-fund of petition sheets, pens and clipboards); the policeman who strolled up and, when I exclaimed I thought he’d come to move me on, said ‘Oh no. I want to sign. Bloody good shop this’; the staff of Wilkos who slipped us flasks of tea at exactly the point my voice was cracking through the near-solid talking; and everyone who took the time to sign even when the queue was six deep. You are all what makes Beeston great, and you know you can make  difference.

Or can they? Some more cynical types signed but with a ‘For what good it’ll do’, and I understand. These are people who have signed petitions before, campaigned for stuff, attended meetings, wrote letters to editors and still found that The Man just does what he likes anyhow. This could be the same for Wilkos. Before I explain why I think this won’t happen this time, heres some back ground.

The first question BBC Nottingham asked me yesterday was ‘Why are you campaigning for a chain store?’, and its a very valid question. I can’t remember what I answered then but I don’t really care much about Wilkinsons the company. I care about this one shop. It is an amenity for the community, serving those who don’t drive and are loathe to enter large supermarkets, people who like the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff, people who like that they seem to sell just about everything practical.It gets loads of trade into Beeston, and is seldom anything but busy. When the high street is under attack from the seemingly interminable economic downturn and the soulless hangars of  that are modern Supermarkets, to lose a real retail success is incredibly imbecilic.

Then there’s the staff. Wilkos is a large employer in Beeston, predominantly part-time women. They have been told that they are probably be going to be out of a job by April, a Christmas message I’m sure they won’t cherish. Redeployment to other stores is not an option for many: if you’re only contracted to do three/four-hour shifts its unlikely you’ll want to sacrifice chunks of your time travelling to other towns, not to mention the hefty financial costs involved. It’s not viable whatsoever. A new Wilkos must be in Beeston, and the staff must not lose one days wage in any transition period.

Who is to blame for the closure? I want to keep the campaign positive and avoid finger-pointing, but it seems three key parties have let this happen. Broxtowe Borough Council, Henry Boot and Wilkinsons themselves all seem to have failed Beeston by not getting a new site sorted soon after the plans to raze the present store were laid out. They’ve known for the best part of a decade, and still not figured it out, despite identifying several potential sites. The developers, the aforementioned  Henry Boot, have famously been unwilling to commit to anything and have systematically frustrated the redevelopment of the Square, which surely should have run concurrent to the tram works to ensure minimal disruption. The Council should have stopped the squabbling between themselves over the tram a while ago: like it or loathe it, its been inevitable for some time but has still been used by councillors for some populist point-scoring when they should have swallowed pride and thrashing out the best deal for Beeston. Wilkinson’s Head Office also need to shape up: they were also responsible for finding a new site and have failed to do so: maybe the large compensation package – funded by council tax, remember-they’ll receive if they have to abandon Beeston caused them to drag their heels somewhat. I don’t know, and I don’t care too much anymore, I, and the 1,000+ petitioners I met yesterday ask one thing: that all concerned parties sit round the table, and do not get up until a deal for a new site that preserves each and every current job is signed. Nothing less is acceptable.

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Cllr. Radulovic

But wait, whats this? It’s Milan Radulovic, head of Broxtowe Borough Council, and he’s outside Wilkos. I proffer my signature sheet and a Bic. Surely he’ll sign? After all, Cllr. Radulovic unfailingly, and with a high degree of gusto and bombast, states in council meetings his passion for the preservation and creation of jobs in Broxtowe. Such a man of the people should be signing, surely? Yet the pen remains in my hand.

‘I’m not signing. I’m not signing as Wilkos isn’t leaving Beeston.’

Blimey, have we been that successful? I know for a fact we had no replacement site as of hat morning, had it changed.

‘Wilkos is staying in Beeston, and some blogs have more facts than others.’ I take it he means Beestonia, rather than comparing Perez Hilton to TMZ. As I’m trying to work out his point, Alan, the aforementioned chap who’d came along to help, asked ‘Where? Where will it be?’, but Milan, along with Cllr Charlie Robb (who you may remember for his rather bizarre views on Climate Change, scroll down to the 14th paragraph) don’t explain, and slink off, leaving me feeling confused and not a little intimidated.

Cllr. Robb. Not a friend of the Laws of Thermo-dymanics.

In the Post article, Milan also states (italics my own)  that he is

‘…confident that a solution has been found and, although there will be a break in trade, Wilkinson’s will not be leaving Beeston permanently…’

Wilkinson’s themselves issued a statement when the media got hold of the issue stating simply

‘Wilkinson’s is committed to remaining in Beeston’.

Will either statement cheer Wilko’s staff before Christmas? Cllr. Radulovic’s is maddeningly vague, and states that even if this mystery new location is agreed upon, the staff will be out of work for some indefinite period of time. Wilkos is purposely vague: the phrase ‘committed to’ is a spin doctors favourite: just as every government will say they are ‘committed to reducing poverty’ or ‘committed to keeping the NHS’ it means little unless they tailor policy so.

So I implore both Wilkos and Broxtowe Borough Council to issue a categorical statement before the New Year that they can guarantee staff jobs, and a seamless transition. The people of Beeston were out in force yesterday, all wonderful people who understand that the things that hold a community together are precious and must be retained. Now prove you do too.

Read the Post article here. Just don’t look at my picture, and skip the bit that says my age. Neither are flattering.

Wilkos: an update.

I’m still missing a laptop, so this is being written on my Blackberry, a far from ideal medium when you consider the spectacular inarticulate nature of my thumbs.

I probably- thankfully-don’t need to give you much introduction on what I’m up to right now: the Wilkos debacle has seemingly interested you more than anything I’ve blogged about that’s not an election.

So, the facts. I first must stress I am campaigning on this issue for reasons that are free of vested interests. I have never worked for Wilkos, am not pursuing some hidden political agenda, or doing this for any other reasons than this: Beeston is taking some huge hits on the High Street right now: to see a shop that is popular, successful and an employer of many closing due to some base incompetence is a travesty that has to be addressed.

Who is to blame, indeed who can resolve the issue is not the key thing right now. I only got confirmation of the closure on friday, and while there is no doubt an analysis to be carried out how the situation came to be, the first thing to do is ensure the bells are peeled, by ensuring Beestonians express their shock and disappointment by petitioning.

Hence two days of campaigning, stymied by other obligations that have led me to only be able to collect signatures for a few hours today. No matter. The response has been incredible, queues forming as I tried to efficiently get their autographs down in time. I spent today chatting to some truly wonderful people, who had either came down after hearing of the imminent closure, or galvanized into an autograph a moment after I’d expained the situation.

If I’d underestimated the situation, the more experienced pros in local media saw it’s potential. Hence a piece in tomorrow’s Nottingham Post, and a live interview on BBC Radio Nottingham’s Breakfast Show at the ungodly hour of 7.30am tomorrow. Tune in.

Why am I trying to save a chain-store? Surely as a fan of independents, I should shrug it off? If you’d stood with me this afternoon, you’d have been amazed at the strength of feeling expressed by those who love the store; for its convenience, it’s value, its staff. I agree whole-heartedly with the former, but the latter really gets me fired up: they are people who deserve better, people who came out on their lunch hour to get themselves on the petition. Beestonians who know that, as many a signaturee made clear to me today ‘ Beeston without Wilkos is not Beeston’.

If you’d like to get involved, we really would appreciate your help for whatever time you could spare wielding a clipboard. Email me at mattgoold23@hotmail.com or simply find us tomorrow to muck in.

And no, despite many queries directed at me, I’m not getting a life-long 20% off Marigolds for doing this. I’m doing this to ensure Beeston doesn’t come a little bit crapper. You should feel that too. I’ll see you later.

Emergency Petition!

Brill. Just as Beestonia gets a scoop and touches a very raw nerve regarding the potential loss of Wilkos in Beeston, my laptop goes kaput. So as I get record hits outside an election, and a huge debate kicks off in the comments page, I’m reduced to running the blog from a rather battered Blackberry with a knackered trackball.

But its very important to get this out, and please pass on the info within. Tomorrow myself and others will be getting a petition together, standing outside Wilkos, to show the support this community gives to one of our finer retailers, and the employees who will soon be on the dole if this incredible piece of poor planning isn’t challenged.

We do need people willing to help: if you can spare some time tomorrow to help collect signatures we’d be overjoyed. I also will have to use the library to get the signature sheets together due to my IT facilities being buggered. Can you help? Let me know, asap by emailing mattgoold23@hotmail.com. If you can’t, please do at least sign the petition, tell everyone about its existence and maybe, just maybe, we’ll keep Beeston from losing one of its better shops. And as my thumbs are now red-raw through typing this, I’ll say tarah. Tarah!

WILKOS TO CLOSE

First, the good news, and tghen the really really crap news.

The tram is now totally greenlighted, and all signatures are dried on all contracts, after a decade of toing-and froing, its official. Whatever your view on the tram, its a good thing that we now have some certainty. Even those who were militantly against the tram: Cllr. Jackson and our MP, Anna Soubry are now pragmatically accepting its inevitability and getting behind making it work well.

Really crap news: It’s just been revealed that Wilko’s is to close. Yep, one of the better Beeston shops- I’m aware its a chain but its a very good one- is being kicked out of Beeston through no fault of its own. I’m not totally in possession of all the facts but it seems that the finger can be pointed at Broxtowe Borough Council’s planning committee that failed to ensure their was a suitable  relocation site to move to. As a result, the bulldozers will be rumbling up to the precinct in February and the emporium of budget house, garden and Pick n Mix produce will be reduced to rubble.

When the High Street is under attack by forces of recession, out-of-town shopping and Mary bloody Portas shaping legislation the enforced closure of one of the few shops to stand strong is a disaster, especially for those who work there and now face a post-xmas present of a P45.

Needless to say, the Campaign to Save Wilkos starts here….

More later, as I get it, and on Twitter: search for @beeestonia (yep, triple E). FOLLOW!

 UPDATE: Cllr. Barber has been in touch to offer some clarity on the matter:

This site and the associated other media are usually excellent but this time you are slightly askew:

True, Wilkos will have to move from their current location in April to make way for the tram. We have known this was going to happen now for several years, although sadly at some points I was the only person on the Council who actually remained convinced, which means that all those concerned have had plenty time to make alternative arrangements.

The Development Control Committee, which I chair and you seem to deride can only look at plans in front of us as submitted by an individual or developer. We have had no plans yet for a new Wilkos.

The matter of where Wilkos will move to is up to them and their landlord, we can only approve or chuck out the plans once they let us know.. 

Beestonia Gets Cross at the Bridge; then visited by Loose Women.

 ***WARNING!! ARTICLE CONTAINS DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A COUNCIL MEETING. IF OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY OR DRIVING, PLEASE FORWARD TO THE FLUFFIER EASIER TO READ BITS AT THE BOTTOM***

 

When we started planning The Beestonian, we tried to decide what it should be. One thing swiftly ruled out was a newspaper. Apart from there already being enough quality papers reporting on Beeston-based shenanigans, it’s also damn near impossible to be bringing fresh stories to an issue when you have no idea when all the editorial is ready; when the printer will have it ready and when I can face the long hilly walk to the other side of Beeston to collect it.It’s called NEWs and not SOMETHINGTHATHAPPENEDAWHILEAGOs.

So when we published a story about Beeston getting a bridge due to the A453 widening, rushing traffic from Clifton’s Crusader Island across the Trent, on stilts above the Rylands weir field and through to Lenton, we didn’t expect it to be not only news, but downright prescient. Five weeks after publication, it’s become a hot-topic in the  Broxtowe Borough Council Chamber. We make the zeitgeist look like a has-been.

A quick run through the story ( though OBVIOUSLY you all have every issue of The Beestonian committed to memory like the heroes of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451). The A453 duelling is now looking pretty certain with Chancellor Osborne giving it the thumbs up in the recent Autumn Statement. Several potential routes were drawn up, each addressing a different problem. The Green Route aimed to avoid congestion building towards Clifton Bridge, by whisking traffic away over the Trent and through the Rylands, hence the bridge. We took an editorial line that this was a bad idea, ruining the peace of the Trent valley and bringing no benefit to Beeston directly: traffic would pass through, not park up, pop out and go and spend loads of cash in town.

We were not the only ones to be concerned, as a visit to the Broxtowe Borough Council full-council on Wednesday proved. It was a fluke I got to the meeting at all: I forgot all about it until a drunken encounter with Cllr. Eric Kerry in the Hop Pole while out celebrating my birthday at the weekend. I remembered that, luckily, and more fortuitously forgot anything else I might have said to Cllr. Kerry.

The meeting was initially good-natured compared to the last couple of fractious encounters. The spirit of Christmas was often evoked, and seemed to be ready to appear again when Cllr. Barber put forward his two-part motion, which I’ve c+p’d straight from the Council Agenda:

1) Recognises the need to dual the rural part of the A453 as part of an integrated transport strategy along that corridor.
2) Opposes construction of a road bridge across the Trent from the Rylands as discussed as possible options at both public inquiries held into this project (the Green Route).

Should be straight forward, non? Nothing that controversial, and Cllr. Richard Jackson seemed to be pretty happy with it, stating the economic benefits of the A453 widening (apparently for every pound spent on it, seven and half flow back). The bridge, he assured all present, was never a serious proposition and even it was, the County Council would vigorously oppose it. Thus ‘I fully support the motion…it is Christmas after all’

And for a moment it seemed to really feel that politics could be put aside for a while, and red, blue and yellow could be as one, away in a manger, jingle bells, jingle bells. But before the mince pies and mulled wine could be  distributed, politics decided it didn’t want to be left out, and came barging back in with sharpened elbows knocking away any bonhomie that may have developed.

The Lib Dems  decided that they weren’t happy with the second part of the motion, and were joined by the whip-free Cllr. Carr, on his first appearance at Full Council since splitting from the Lib Dems. Suddenly, a crack could be seen in the Lib/Lab partnership, and the Conservatives didn’t hesitate to rip it wider. The aforementioned Cllr. Kerry launched into a rather bizarre and confusing, but rather compelling analogy based around Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing: I’d try and explain exactly how this applied but despite being ok at English Lit when at school, I’m also the only person to ever go to Stratford as an adult, and when asked by the barman in the pub what Shakespeare stuff I’d done that day, innocently answer ‘Shakespeare? He was from  round here?’.

Cllr. Watts suggested amending the motion to erase the second part regarding the bridge, for the sake of unanimity. At this point, the council witnessed what will probably go down as the fastest u-turn in politics since  Eric Pickles noticed Greggs had a half-price sale on moments after driving by one.

Cllr. Jackson, moments before happy to go along with the motion in full, suddenly decided he didn’t like the second part after all, and suggested an amendment to scrub this: it was duly voted through; and unanimity followed when the motion vote was taken.

Now, compare this to the recent debate on housing in Toton. Again, the idea to build on the fields there were just that; an idea, but all parties were mad keen to be seen as championing retaining it as green belt. Soubry has even used it, rather churlishly, to relaunch herself as ‘Protector of the Green Belt’ , a position that I’ll show reeks of hypocrisy in a future article. So why the refusal to also protect the Rylands and The Trent Valley? It too is just a proposal, it too could be seen as not worth fighting against as it was ‘just a plan’. No one wants a bridge, so why not oppose it in principle?

I chatted to Cllr. Jackson after the meeting and asked why the volte- face. He explained the Green Route would ‘never be taken seriously anyhow’. I asked if it did get mooted, what would the County Council do ‘We’d oppose it, of course’.

Lets hope it never comes to that. But if, in a year or so, the Department for Transport start trying to heavy-handily impose a bridge over Beeston, please remember that the Council’s attitude towards this threat was   ‘We’ll cross it when we come to it’.

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On a much lighter note, we got on ITV’s Loose Women! Yep, the multi-headed hydra of ignorance and utter bilge that pollutes the daytime schedules like a dodgy drain in a clap-clinic; bigged up Beeston. More than one Beestonian alerted me to this – I of course never watch such tat, unerring from my ultra high-brow daytime diet of BBC4 documentaries involving Croatian composers,or a ten part history series on engraved ceramic garlic-presses.

Turns out that Sherrie Hewson, who appeared in Corrie and the revived Crossroads before deciding to join in with the setting back of feminism  40 years via the medium of babbling about arsebollocks to gin soaked depressed housewives, is a Beestonian! Heavens! Who knew?

I’ve been told that she was actually quite nice about her home town on the show, so maybe I should be a bit nicer. Then I google her picture and her resemblance to a certain non-Beestonian convince me otherwise.

Sweet dreams…

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Beestonia Gets Spooned by the Bankers / Issue 4 is GO!

Dear My Life. Slow down. I just can’t keep up. Loads has happened since I last wrote: I even got a year older.

Beestonia tucking into Vogue, yesterday.

 

I’ve decided there are a couple of solutions to this: the first is to assume some sort of Socrates / Samuel Johnson method and employ a Plato/ Boswell to do the actual writing bit while I just swan about doing stuff. Any takers?

Or I could find more time to plug my laptop in and hammer away on the keyboard until something passable gets thrown onto the screen. As I’ve just been thrown back into the utterly terrifying and faintly humiliating world of unemployment once again it looks like the latter solution is the most likely.

It’s possibly my own fault: taking a job in a Big Bank (whose name I best not mention as I haven’t got the same legal resources as Capital One have) wasn’t really the best career choice for me, but it was a temporary position, and to steal that eternal excuse trotted out by the erstwhile nude model, I needed the money.

I won’t lay into the place to heavily: its actually a good place to work: a subsidised canteen, flexibility on working hours and most people there are lovely. The work itself was pretty depressing though: I worked in Collections, which was trawling through the misery of others indebtedness, monitoring how debt-collection agencies would hunt them down until they coughed up. This is the side of credit the banks don’t like to flaunt, this recourse into the small print; this collecting the smashed prey that lies twitching in the sprung traps. But, as I explained, I needed the money.

I even managed to keep the horrible corporate culture from getting at me too much: the ‘inspirational’ slogans plastered everywhere explaining that I should ‘dare to be the best’, just one of many hollow messages  kicked out by some black-hearted motivational management consultant between chopping out poodle-leg lines of Columbian nose-tingler. Pointless seminars were held to hammer us with often bizarre ideas (were we ‘dolphin-thinkers, elephant-do’ers or camel-walkers?’ No, me neither); no noun could be spared being turned into a verb -sorry, no noun could escape a verbing…I didn’t let it get to me, its the curse of modern private sector workplaces, especially ones ran from the home of management bollock-speak, the US.

What did get me however was the undercurrent of harassment  that I started getting. At first I thought it was just paranoia, that my boss was doing it to everyone else and I was just being overtly sensitive. I thus shrugged off the across-office telling offs, the condescending sighs if I failed to grasp a process instantly, the humiliations of being singled out and yelled out in team meetings. Others noticed it though, and were incredulous, and I realised it was getting a bit silly. I didn’t want to be forced to storm out, or be forced to leave. I needed the money.

So I endured it until the day a colleague tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Bit harsh, don’t you think?’. I turned to see on the team notice board, on full view to all staff, had some additions on it. Beforehand we’d had photos of us all across it, now these had laminated card ‘awards’ on them. So most ‘keen’ team member had a Roy Keane football shirt over their picture; the most inquisitive a pair of over-sized specs…and so on. Over my photo? A wooden spoon. Cheers.

What was left of my morale disintegrated, and through a haze of humiliation I tapped out a quick email to my boss outlining why I thought this was a nasty, unprofessional gesture. I also mentioned the other occasions where I’d been singled out by her, and how I would like to know what it was I was doing wrong to inspire such behavior. Aware that my crushed mood may have been affecting the tone of the email, I sent it to a couple of friends to look over: they made few changes, and I sent it off. This was a Tuesday.

On the Wedneday, the boss calls me into a meeting room for ‘a chat’. She acknowledges my email, apologises profusely, says shes sorry I feel this way and how much she appreciates my work, and how she is looking forward to me becoming an ‘associate’- a permanent member of staff. I accept the apology, and explain I’m sorry I had to send the email but respect the way it was dealt with. The wooden spoon gets removed, and replaced by a, errr, brick wall. Something to do with ‘solidity’ apparently.

Friday rolls round, and I finish the week, jump on the bus and, while relishing the thought of the approaching weekend, hear my phone ring. Its my job agency, and they have some news for me.

‘Hi Matt. It’s J— here, just to let you know you won’t be required at Capital One anymore. L– (my boss) wants to terminate your contract at minimum notice. You have two weeks left. Have a good weekend”).

The timing was horribly sneaky: tell me just at the start of the weekend so I didn’t get to ask if this decision was a coincidence or, as suspected, spite. I didn’t forget though, and on the monday confronted my boss. She explained that they’d made the decision before my complaint (despite booking me onto a training course after the supposed decision), that the complaint had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision, and, best of all, I had the ‘wrong type of personality’ to be a member of staff at Capital One. This intrigued me. I asked what she meant.

‘We want people who don’t put the money first: people who come here cos they love it and see the wage as a bonus’

I couldn’t help it, I burst into incredulous laughter and explained every single person in the office, however much they enjoyed their job, would not turn up if all roles became voluntary. Her eyes widened, her lips thinned.

“And thats EXACTLY why we don’t need negative people like you!’

I gave up at that point. I didn’t need  the money that much.

I served out the last fortnight  diligently and in an uncomplaining manner: I even trained up my replacement; had a leaving drink with some colleagues and once again became a member of that ever-burgeoning group, the unemployed. Just in time to really screw up Christmas.

Still, thats the lot of the temp, and I’ll be back in another job before long, albeit as a virtually powerless, right-free worker.

__________

Also, it gives me a bit more free time to work on The Beestonian, which reaches Issue 4 from tomorrow morning. It’s available all over Beeston, and in some choice venues beyond. Massive thanks to our sponsors, The Treasury and Belle and Jerome; as well as Jimmy at The Guitar Spot on Chilwell High Road, who looks like being a bit of a regular fixture…anyhow, just read it, will you? And if you can’t get a copy, drop me an email at mattgoold23@hotmail.com and I’ll send you a PDF you can print off yourself. It is Christmas, after all.